Home Is Belonging

Home Is Belonging For awhile I’ve been interested in the meaning(s) of “Home” and the assurance of Belonging that Home’s comfort provides. It’s on my mind as I prepare for a book event this coming Saturday in my home town, Richmond VA.  The city I left for college, its boulevards and side streets, school playgrounds and parks, extends its unfailing invitation home.

Moon and candlelit night at 1203

How uncommonly fortunate I am to have called the house pictured here home for 55 years. Somehow this simple dwelling, resting atop a hill on a quiet dead-end street, offered a home to all who swung open the back gate. Generations counted on the music of  the unlocked kitchen door’s jingling sleigh bells accompanied by barks of happy dogs. Every time. Across time and place, memories stitch all of us together.

How lovely that this home now doubles as my mobile home. It moves with me in the company of those who wear my father’s tie, my grandfather’s cufflinks, my mother’s bracelet, and my grandmother’s scarf. I’m at home entering other homes now enjoying a child’s strawberry-painted chest, an old painting, re-upholstered chairs, a worn bench, chipped dishes stacked around merry tables. Homecoming warms me wherever I hear children playing, church bells tolling, lawnmowers buzzing, Sarah Vaughan singing, old stairs creaking, whole-bodied laughing, champagne cork popping. A full moon, rosemary plant, change of season, game of Scrabble, fresh tomatoes, old movie, a bird’s feather and grains of sand—heart is where the home is.

My awareness of the soothing power of feeling at home increases as home shows up in familiar as well as unexpected places. Home’s meaning transforms and expands—it’s both here and there, old and new. I’m determined to foster this sense of belonging, to stay in close contact with what secures my place on the planet. Ocean, tennis court, mountain—the list goes on if I’m paying attention. The whistle of a train and a lifeguard…a car horn tooting arrival and departure…cast iron pans and handmade potholders…a soft breeze blowing den curtains and smoke from a backyard grill…a jaunty tune thrummed by ukulele and catbird….

In 2008 I wrote in How Philosophy Can Save Your Life: “Belonging is being emotionally encircled by your relationships with others. The ribbons of belonging tie you to places that you call home. The many ways of belonging gladden our hearts. Connections near and far, known and unknown, plant seeds of trust and security.” I knew that then. I understand it now.

Home is unmistakable.

My doormen.